Toronto urban nature and winter walks: around bridges
Updated: Jan 24
WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU? A winter walk to admire Cedarvale Ravine + a hidden café in a residential area.
A great ravine crossing two neighbourhoods in the western part of town, Forest Hill South and Cedarvale. Since the last time I visited the place, a cool coffee counter has opened in the middle of a nearby residential area. It was time for me to rethink this urban walk to include the stop for my caffeine fix.
This 4.5-km loop runs through the ravine and includes Hunter Coffee Shop.
There’s parking at Phil White Arena within the park but I prefer finding street parking on Strathearn Rd (to admire the houses). There’s an access to St. Clair West Subway Station at the south-east end of the park, off Heath Street West.
Hunter Coffee Shop
Being a mere 10-min walk from the park makes Hunter Coffee Shop (423 Vaughan Road) the perfect goal to our walk. It is hidden in a residential hood.
Many Google reviews mentioned line-ups on Saturday mornings in front of the café so I was intrigued. I got there on a weekday, to discover that the only seating at this coffee shop was an outdoor bench. Customers get to order at the window. In addition, this is the only cafe in the area to offer locals their caffeine fix. No wonder a small line-up forms from time to time.
This Saturday, I took a friend there for a lovely winter walk. We parked on Strathearn Rd, not far from the entrance leading towards the off-leash dog park (a very popular spot!). There’s another access at Markdale Avenue. We reached the paved path and turned left to walk into the lovely ravine, so pretty under a white coat of snow.
The first bridge over our head is the Glen Cedar Pedestrian Bridge with a long staircase. The second one along the sinuous trail is Bathurst St Bridge. A small stream runs nearby. Some bullrushes reveal a marsh. Up the ravine, we could see a few impressive properties. Walking further south, we reached the access to St. Clair Subway Station.
We returned, back to the pedestrian bridge and up the staircase to admire the view (beautiful all year-round). it’s quite high!
Then, we continued southbound on the bridge to get to Hunter Coffee Shop, less than 10-min walk away. Turning right after the bridge onto Heathdale Rd, we followed the curb and turned right at Windley Ave, then left at Ruston Rd to Vaughan Rd. Hunter is one block further west, past a retro-looking verity store.
To return to the park (a 5-min walk), I suggest you turn left at Arlington Avenue (around the variety store), then take Fernandez Lane on your left. There are not many lanes in that part of town. When you reach Arlington again, turn left to get to the Phil White Arena, where you will be able to return to your starting point on the paved path.
While you're there
There’s a little commercial cluster in Forest Hill. Spadina Road is only 300 metres from St. Clair Subway Station off Heath St West. There, going northbound, you’ll find many restaurants, Aroma Espresso Bar, Starbucks, Second Cup, and the excellent Type Books.
This post is a complement to local author Nathalie Prézeau's walking guide: Toronto BEST Urban Strolls. You already own this book? Check Nathalie's WEEKLY WALKS calendar available on her site www.torontourbangems.com/calendar. It's free, easily printable by season, and it includes page references which should help you enjoy urban walks year-round.
Nathalie's guides are available in Toronto’s major bookstores, on torontourbangems.com/shop and amazon.ca or indigo.ca. We also deliver or contact the author directly at email@example.com to arrange for a pick up with a discount at 299 Booth Avenue, in Leslieville.